Football fans in Hong Kong allegedly broke the law to boo the Chinese national anthem in their country’s World Cup qualifier against Iran.
More than 10,000 football fans watched the match on Tuesday at the Hong Kong Stadium, but anti-Government protesters in the crowds held up signs saying ‘boo’.
They turned their backs when the anthem was played and also formed a human chain during half-time to protest over what they see as Chinese influence over the former colony.
Anti-Government protesters hold up signs saying ‘boo’ and ‘We are Hong Kong’ to protest during the football match. The protesters held up material in the red and white style of the Hong Kong team jersey
It is against the law to disrespect the Chinese national anthem, which was played in the stadium before the match started. Fans jeered and booed during the anthem.
Some held up political banners and signs including ‘Stand with Hong Kong’ and ‘May glory be to Hong Kong’.
The latest sign of unrest came after another weekend of violent clashes, where police fired tear gas at protesters in the streets.
Football fans in Hong Kong allegedly broke the law to boo the Chinese national anthem in their country’s World Cup qualifier against Iran
More than 10,000 football fans watched the match on Tuesday, but anti-Government protesters in the crowds held up signs saying ‘boo’ and others chanted ‘Liberate Hong Kong’
‘We hope we can unite Hong Kong,’ said one of those booing, Ah Wing, wearing a red Hong Kong team shirt and glasses.
‘Even if we lose, we’ll keep going. That’s what we do against strong teams, against strong enemies.’
Some local fans continued to chant protest slogans during the match, which saw Iran beat Hong Kong 2-0.
Some held up political banners and signs including ‘Stand with Hong Kong’ and ‘May glory be to Hong Kong’. Others appeared to create a wave of lights with their phones
Hong Kong Football Association Chairman Pui Kwan-kay told the South China Morning Post:
‘As the football governing body, we want the fans to focus on the match but in reality we understand it will be very difficult as someone will certainly make use of the opportunity to make a political appeal.
‘We just hope their behaviour will not contravene the rules or the association may be liable to punishment again by Fifa.’
A protester holds a stuffed Pepe the Frog, a viral internet meme which has also become a symbol for the protest movement in Hong Kong. Pepe is pictured wearing an eye patch, which could allude to a Hong Kong demonstrator who got a severe eye injury an eye in the protests
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland. But many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is steadily eroding that autonomy.
Weeks of protests over a now withdrawn extradition bill have evolved into a broader backlash against the government and greater calls for democracy.
During a rally at the U.S. consulate on Sunday, thousands of demonstrators, some waving the American flag, called for help in bringing democracy to Hong Kong.
The protesters urged the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would require Washington to make an annual assessment of whether Hong Kong was sufficiently autonomous from mainland China to retain special U.S. trade and economic benefits.
Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, responded to those calls at a news conference on Tuesday.
Some local fans continued to chant protest slogans during the match, which saw Iran beat Hong Kong 2-0. The Chinese national anthem was played before the match started
‘It’s extremely inappropriate for foreign parliaments to interfere in HKSAR internal affairs in any way, and (we) will not allow (the United States) to become a stakeholder in HKSAR matters,’ she said, referring to Hong Kong by its status as a special administrative region of China.
China denies meddling in the city and Chinese officials have accused foreign forces of trying to hurt Beijing by creating chaos in Hong Kong.
They have also warned outsiders to keep out of what they call an internal matter.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about the protests in front of the U.S. Consulate and Lam’s comments, said Beijing was resolutely opposed to any foreign government interfering in China’s affairs.
‘We hope they can withdraw their black hands in Hong Kong as soon as possible,’ she said.